(Book Review): Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

(Book Review): Outlander by Diana GabaldonOutlander by Diana Gabaldon

Published by Bantam Dell on July 1st 2005
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Girls & Women, Historical, Love & Romance, Romance, Social Issues
Pages: 850
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought for Myself
Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.From the Hardcover edition.

Combining highland warriors with romance and time travel, Outlander is a historical novel not quite like any other. Recently adapted for TV by Starz, Outlander has gained even more fans as more and more people want to read about Claire and Jamie’s unique love story.

It’s no secret I have a soft spot for kilt wearing warriors, strong independent female leads and romances set in Scottish Highlands but in many ways Outlander missed the mark for me.

It is easy to see why Outlander has so many fans. The characters are interesting and not quite like most heroes and heroines from popular romances. Claire is a young woman trying to reconnect with her husband Frank after being separated for so many years by World War II. After witnessing a druid ceremony after Beltane, Claire is thrust back in time to the mid 1700’s where she come across by a group of Scottish warriors. Confused by what has happened, Claire has to navigate her new surroundings and survive threats she never knew existed. She also meets a handsome young Scot named Jamie with a kind soul and with whom Claire shares chemistry unlike she has ever experienced before.

Claire and Jamie are great characters to follow as Claire comes to terms with her situation. But I found this book to be rather hard to get into. Setting the scene as we are first introduced to Claire as she enjoys a second honeymoon with Frank was sweet. But by showing us Claire’s former life just made it harder for me to accept her relationship with Jamie. Had things with Frank been less idyllic, I may have been able to embrace her romance with the warrior more fully – but I fully understand that the contrast between the two men and Claire’s relationship with both is part of why so many people love this book so much. In many ways Claire epitomises the WWII philosophy of make do and mending. She’s practical and pragmatic. Rather than becoming a damsel in distress, Claire takes matters into her own hands and owns her situations. There were times when I thought she was a little too perfect and wonderful but for the most I loved reading about her antics and (mis)adventures with Jamie.

I’ve not read a novel quite like Outlander before. Travelling through time is a big part of Claire’s story yet the time travel and fantasy elements of this book are only there to facilitate the romance. The political climate of the 1700’s is featured and causes a lot of the drama and conflict in the novel. Having Claire’s present day life be set in the past means the book doesn’t really age. It’s an interesting idea and I think the vintage setting makes this novel more accessible in-spite many readers never having experienced either time period of the book.

I had started to read this book seven years ago and put it aside due to how slow moving I found it. But determined to finish it this year, I approached it with an open mind and a determination to see it though. After the first 10%, the pace picks up and I was absorbed into the story. It’s a great story with an original premise and great characters. I’m excited to read Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) – hopefully finishing this one in the not so distant future.



  1. I have never read Outlander, watched the show, or even had any idea at all what it was about. Now that I’ve read your review for the book, I absolutely MUST read it! It sounds like a heartfelt, yet really awesome story. I’m not usually a fan of slow-moving books, but I’m definitely going to give this one a try!

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